KA-BAR’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Woods Monkey Meets the Zombie Killer Series…
We all love camping and hiking but one of the things we have to keep in mind is to take precautions against unforeseen circumstances. It makes sense to carry a map and compass and a Personal Survival Kit in case we get lost, and a first aid kit in case we get injured. There are a myriad of issues that can crop up out in the woods but one of the most annoying is the pesky undead.
Just like all other issues that you prepare for it doesn’t hurt to be ready for an unforeseen zombie outbreak as well. Luckily the folks at KA-BAR are ahead of the curve on this issue and have recently released their new line of Zombie Killer knives, or ZK line.
Let’s face it, although we try to camp and hike in areas of pristine wilderness those areas are increasingly hard to find, particularly in the heavily populated Eastern part of the United States. It isn’t uncommon to run across an old homestead or other buildings and even cemeteries in areas that have been thoroughly reclaimed by the wilderness. Sometimes it might be that the folks resting there would prefer to be undisturbed and might not look kindly on you intruding upon their eternal slumber. It could certainly be argued that for these types of cases you’d be best equipped with a high capacity rifle of pistol or a sturdy, reliable shotgun. If you’re on foot hiking or camping though you can only carry so much ammo on your person and in many states and areas it isn’t legal to carry a firearm at all. So it makes sense to have a good zombie capable blade along just in case. If you have a firearm along it makes a great backup, and if you don’t it’s a necessary primary tool. Whatever the cause of your zombie emergency, KA-BAR’s ZK line has something to offer the intrepid adventurer. Don’t let the fear of brain eating fiends ruin your woods outings!
The ZK line consists of four models named after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Pestilence, War, Famine and Death. Each sturdy blade is made from SK5 carbon steel and finished with a non-reflective black coating. The handles are of the style of KA-BAR’s Johnson Adventure knives’ and are mated to four different style blades. The ZK’s come with two sets of handle scales, one subdued black and the other a bright, nearly fluorescent green GFN-PA66. The green handles are quite distinctive and should be easy to see in dim light, when the feral undead are most likely to strike. All of the knives come with a rugged nylon sheath with a hard insert and MOLLE attachments. They feature a large pouch on the front suitable for a survival kit, flashlight, spare pistol magazines, or even your favorite beverage in case you need a dose of liquid courage following a zombie attack. The sheath even has a smaller integral sheath for the provided Archeron knife that comes with all of the ZK fixed blades. The Archeron is a 6 3/8 OAL skeletonized knife with a 3.125 inch blade that’s perfect for fine detail work or for when you’d like to do some camp kitchen chores with a knife that hasn’t been tainted by zombie flesh.
Now, most hikers and campers are pretty conscious of weight and the utility of the equipment they carry. While a big, bad ZK knife is a comforting thought for when things moan “Brains…” in the night, it’s nice to know they can handle general camp chores as well for when things are less dire. We passed out our ZK knives to four of Woods Monkey staffers offered to take the ZK line for field evaluations – both at the local PWYP Proving Grounds ( a known haunt of Brains Eaters… ) and also on their home turf to deal with their own local hordes…
so, with no further ado, let’s look at each of the Four Horsemen of KA-BAR’s Zombie Killer line…
The KA-BAR Pestilence
Zombies are coming and they want your brains! No worries, KA-BAR has introduced the ZK series. The KA-BAR ZK "Pestilence Chopper" is a straight edge fixed blade mini machete. The ZK Pestilence is constructed with a SK5 (similar to 1080) steel blade measuring 10 ¼ inch and has an overall length of 15 ¾ inch. The Pestilence Chopper features a large straight edge flat ground blade with a sheepsfoot tip and textured GFN-PA66 handle. The knife comes with an extra set of black handles and a Nylon sheath with front stuff pouch (approximately 37 cu. in.).
The old adage of a tool is as only as good as its user does not apply here. The ZK Pestilence performed well in every test I gave it. The first thought I had when given the knife was “Wow, A draw knife with a bright green handle”. Using the ZK as a draw knife I was able to make a rabbit stick, sharpen some very sharp spear points on 1 inch diameter poles, and shave tree bark from several trees for various uses. The chopping power of the ZK is good but not outstanding. It performed much like a small one handed brush ax. Out of the box, the largest sapling size I was able to cut in one stroke was approximately 1 to 2 inches depending on the tree species and type of wood. The blade has a tendency to stick if you do not go through in one chop. I thought maybe that was happening because of the angle I struck the target at. I varied my angle and power level in the chop and if I failed to go through the blade would stick a little. I figure that kind of power is good for going through zombie bones lickety split. Speaking of splitting, around camp the ZK did perform outstandingly. I was able to make kindling from three 8 inch diameter Oak chunks using the trusty mallet log splitting method in approximately 5 minutes. The flat grind of the blade made a really shallow wedge and went through the wood easily and cleanly. If you need to make camp quickly because the zombies are attacking the ZK Pestilence Chopper is a necessary tool. It is lighter and smaller than a machete and is just as useful, if not more. The ZK acted as a camp knife, machete, draw-knife and brush ax. The performance was not too shabby.
When I first saw the neon lime green scales on the ZK Pestilence Chopper, my first reaction was ewwwwww. I did not like them one bit. I was wrong. The neon lime green scales totally clash in most land types which makes them easy to see when you misplace the blade, which I did three times. I found it all three times with no issues. I even had my son hide the blade well and I went and looked for it. That turned into an all-day game but the blade was found every time because of the neon lime green scales. I have also been told that neon lime green is the official Zombie Hunters color because zombies are unable to see in neon. I even ended up putting neon lime green lanyards on all of my knives so I can find them when I lose them in the bush.
The sheath for the ZK Pestilence Chopper is pretty standard with the exception of the dump bag on the front. WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!! The volume of the bag is approximately 37 cu. in. I was able to put several essential items in the bag. That was a whole other test. We fit everything from a bicycle water bottle to a small first aid kit in the pocket. I even used it to collect some edibles that I foraged during the tests. I am sure in a zombie fight you can store spare ammo a grenade or one of your fingers if the need arose.
The ZK Pestilence Chopper had few draw backs. The one big thing for me was the front finger groove in the handle. The finger groove broke my grip during heavy use. Thankfully there is a lanyard hole in the handle. The blade has a tendency to stick into anything larger than two inches. I suspect this is because the flat ground blade is coated and not polished.
Overall the ZK Pestilence Chopper performed well as a camp knife, machete, brush ax, draw knife, blah, blah, blah. I like this knife from KA-BAR. Easy to use, light, strong and it has cool neon lime green handles. I have already started planning a zombie safari to see how well it cleans up. The zombies are coming…….I has a ZK Pestilence Chopper, I say let them come.
By Jason Corsberg, Forester and budding Zombie Hunter
KA-BAR ZK War Sword
How can you not like the idea of a purpose built Zombie killer? The one of the line I was lucky enough to snatch is the War Sword. This baby is a hefty brute of a blade with good balance and a fair bit of muscle. It’s a good balance of all aspects to me. Just hefty enough to be tough, while having a good keen edge, especially for it’s size. I would classify it as a recurve, with its sweeping belly and forward weight. This makes for some great chopping action. I took it along on a few hikes and played with it in the woods on a few different occasions. It performed well in just about every woods bumming task I set it too but without a doubt it shined in the brute force category. Limbing out poles, batoning, chop and slash cuts, I even made it a point to slash a few water bottles. It held up fine and then some. One thing I love a long knife for, and the War Sword is no exception, is using it like a draw knife. The curve on the end of the blade fit the hand well and allows for some nice controlled draws. Shouldn’t think it would be too difficult to produce a decent bow with this knife. All this sort of work is hard on an edge to say the least. I touched the edge up when I first brought it home and maintained it with a small stone and a strop. No deep nicks or chips where observed during use and it seemed to come back to a nice edge every time.
The greatest asset of this knife though has to be viewed as a total package. The sheath system is really nice for the price point. MOLLE webbing up and down the back make it a snap to fasten to a pack. Though I typically don’t prefer to carry a “long knife” on my belt, the couple of times I had it mounted there I didn’t find it to bad because they left enough room in the belt loop to allow some movement. Even with a 2 inch wide belt it didn’t lock it down and become obtrusive when kneeling or squatting. The font pouch, purported to be big enough to hold a beverage, is functional for holding more than just a liquid relief container. I found it great for paracord hanks, a cigar and lighter, gathering tinder as you walk; the pouch even has a draw cord closure. It’s all up to you; let’s just say a Yuengling lager bottle rides there fine. The knife also comes with a set of replaceable scales in black in case you need to be ultra tactical; I find the brighter colored scales really great for keeping track of your knife when you lay it down in leaf litter though, or in low light. The scales are textured but more or less smooth. They aren’t what I would call tacky by any terms, though the handle is large enough to keep your hand from fatiguing as you hack and slash you way to freedom from a horde of flesh hungry ghouls.For the price I don’t see how you can’t love it. Even if zombie defense and dispatchment isn’t your bread and butter this knife will have something to offer.
– Andy Blanchard
The KA-BAR Famine
I finally got some time with one of the very cool Zombie Killer knives from KA-BAR, the tanto pointed Famine. I didn’t find any zombies in the back yard even though I was out there at midnight with a flashlight. Let me back up a bit: the day before I started out needing a shelter to hide in and stalk my prey, the undead. This blade was a wicked chopper and made short work of the limbs I used to whip together a lean-to shelter. The SK-5 steel was working great lopping off smaller branches of the poles I used for the main structure.
This knife came with extra black scales but I opted to stick with the green for ease of finding it outside the shelter. The sheath was a good working piece too, I opted not to carry a beer can in the front pocket but had my PSK tucked away in there. The drawstring kept it all in place too, good slide lock on there.
I didn’t find much need for the serrations on this particular knife but the tanto point was quite sharp and worked great at poking holes, I even used the hook on the handle to pull some vines down to clear a shooting lane I had baited with my own blood. What dedication! If you find yourself facing the end and the zombies are surrounding you, be sure to have one of the ZK knives at your side for when the AR and 1911 run dry.
– Scott Wickham Jr.
The KA-BAR Death Dagger
The speed demon of the fixed blades in the ZK series is definitely the Death Dagger. A thick blade with a point down the center line, it weighs in at only 12.7 ounces. Though it is a dagger, it doesn’t share the characteristic of a weak point, with a false edge that starts about a 1/3 from the tip. Like the other fixed blades, this Death Dagger has a full flat grind, and comes with an alternative set of black scales should you opt for a more covert version. The streamline blade shape and the ergonomic handle felt great in the hand, and those who study martial arts that focus on reverse grips and more straight style attacks will favor the way this blade dances on the hand, and it would make one hell of a fighting knife. On Tulip Poplar, I was able to choke back on the handle to get the blade to perform like its bigger chopper siblings, and despite the lack of a weight forward distribution of steel, the 8 and 1/2 inch blade did very well. For more practical purposes, think of this like a fillet knife on steroids. It would carve a mean boar and cut the meat off of a rib or two when trying to harvest all parts of a game mammal. The knife was a good companion while wading in six foot water to observe alligators in South Carolina. They have very tough back scales (called osteoderms), and a knife designed for slashing would not work with a 10 foot gator; penetration is key. Though that hasn’t happened, it’s nice to have the knife there for comfort, and afterwards, the sheath was able to hold a backup beer while fishing.
– Joe Flowers
KA-BAR’s on the Zombie Course
In addition to the individual testing by our staff members we got to try out the ZK line as a group during the annual Practice What You Preach even hosted by illustrious writer, photographer, and noted zombiologist Terrill Hoffman. While there Woods Monkey staff used the blades for various camp chores, and performed some hands on testing just to get a feel for the blades. The general consensus was that the ZK line was a set of sturdy, practical blades regardless of whether you had zombie deanimation concerns or not. The four blade styles allowed for users to pick the style most suited to them and the sturdy sheaths with the big utility pouch were highly praised. Feelings on the handles were initially split with a about a 50/50 mix initially of those who liked the bright green and those who wanted the subdued black. You can see though that through testing our writers really came around to the logic of the bright handles. Since KA-BAR thoughtfully provides both sets of scales though, this wouldn’t have really been an issue either way. The user can pick what works best for them.
One of the highlights of this year’s PWYP was a combat course set up by our host. Ever mindful of popular culture and the changing preparedness needs caused by the rising zombie threat Mr. Hoffman wisely decided to set up a Zombie Combat Course for PWYP attendees to train on. For the course of fire he set up an undisclosed number of zombie targets dressed in various clothing styles to simulate zombies commonly encountered in the wild. The zombies were placed at various distances and in various degrees of concealment throughout the course. The course was a combination of shooting ability and perception and observation skills. Folks ran through the course at their own speed and many (such as your Editor) found that balls to the wall speed was not as effective as a moderate, methodical stalking and engagement of the slow moving, shambling undead. Just in case the Zombie Simulation Course attracted the real thing a number of the participants carried the KA-BAR Zombie Killers on their persons while running the course. All in all, the course was fun and educational and was completed without incurring the wrath of any local Chestnut Mountain Zombies. Still, it was reassuring to know that the ZK blades were present if they had been needed.
Whether you have a legitimate zombie concern and need a sturdy back up blade, or just like the idea of a good, rugged field knife and can appreciate a company with a sense of humor and their hand on the pulse of pop culture, KA-BAR has a lot to offer in their new Zombie Killer line. MSRP’s run right around the $75 dollar mark and the knives will be available through regular KA-BAR dealers near you.
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